July 10, 2014

Grassroots/Community Based

Under Re-Construction: San Diego Opera Cutting Costs and Rebuilding Trust for 50th Anniversary Season

SDOAfter the highly publicized near-closure of the San Diego Opera this spring, the organization has cut its operating budget by about a third—including some staff layoffs—and is preparing to raise the curtain on its 50th anniversary season. A recent decision by San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture underscores both the progress that’s been made and the work that remains to be done.

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Reporter Views Lack of Salary Disclosure as Provocative Indicator

MoneyAn Asheville, N.C reporter reveals a bit of his thinking and it is worth considering: In his opinion, when an organization working with tax dollars refuses to reveal top salaries, they warrant a deeper investigative look.

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Further Franchise Follies for Dan Snyder’s DC NFL Team

RedskinsMemo to Dan Snyder and the people he recruits to blog for his revamped public relations effort to defend his NFL team’s use of a racial slur as its name: Time’s up. Recruiting politically liberal bloggers and coming up with new charitable efforts for Native Americans won’t undo the racism built into the team’s name.

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Chinese Philanthropist Who Reneged on NYC Homeless Gets Faked Himself

ChenRemember the Chinese philanthropist who threw the fancy luncheon for homeless New Yorkers and then left amidst confusion and charges of reneging on commitments to help? It seems that now he feels that he got scammed by a New York-based nonprofit himself. 

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Hospital Mergers and Affordable Care – Incompatible?

MonopolyMassachusetts has realized that one of its hospital systems has gotten so big that it is demonstrably driving healthcare costs up. Now what?

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Husock on Crony Corporate Philanthropy

RegThe Manhattan Institute’s Howard Husock and this newswire writer have crossed ideological swords at many times over the years and will likely to do so many times more in the future. But Husock’s column in Forbes criticizing “crony philanthropy” as practiced by corporate foundations resonates with us.

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Is IRS Denying Nonprofit Status to Open Source Software Groups?

IRSThis article in Network World suggests the IRS may be averse to approving nonprofit status for nonprofit groups making Open Source software.

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82 Shot, 14 Killed in Chicago over July 4th: Time for Nonprofits to Demand Gun Control

ChicagoTell the victims of July 4th weekend shootings in Chicago (and Indianapolis, San Francisco, Long Beach, Baltimore, and other places) that they are dead because our nation believes that the Second Amendment is a green light for intramural slaughter. The nonprofit sector had better stand up to the National Rifle Association and feckless politicians and demand gun control now.

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The “People’s Opera” May Rise Again, But It’s a Waiting Game for Buyers

POThere are potential buyers waiting to be given the chance to buy and resuscitate the New York City Opera, and one of them thinks the board, grinding its way through bankruptcy proceedings, is dragging its collective feet!

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Mikey Likes It! CEO Faces Questions about Big Compensation in Small Nonprofit

Money“Mikey” Weinstein’s salary as CEO absorbs nearly half of the revenues of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit he founded in 2005.  Combative and generating virulent critics from the religious right for his dogged advocacy for church/state separation, Weinstein might be well advised to change some of the financial and governing practices of the organization free of nagging questions about his compensation and the board’s oversight. 

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“Who Owns the Art?” and Other Questions Lingering at the Intersection of Culture, Class, and Money

MOCAAs two nonprofit museums and their respective cities await the final results of mediation to resolve issues about ownership of the collections, one observer raises important questions that relate to North Miami, Detroit, and no doubt other places where minority populations sometimes have to fight to preserve access to cultural treasures.

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Legacy of a Failed Foundation Initiative: inBloom, Gates and Carnegie

SunflowerEarlier this year, NPQ wrote about inBloom, one of the more expensive failed foundation initiatives ever. With a Gates grant of $100 million, inBloom managed to get and lose a number of contracts with public schools in just 15 months. In so doing, they did the country a favor by motivating a left/right backed movement of parents who object to the indiscriminate placement of details about their children in a national database.

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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s New Grantmaking Focus

RWJFReflecting changes in healthcare delivery, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is moving away from medicine-centered program support and embracing community wellness efforts and the importance of allied health professionals. One challenge with the new focus on a “Culture of Health” is the increased difficulty in measuring success.

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Shocking Documentary on Teens in Solitary Confinement Raises Additional Questions About its Use

SCThe result of a year of in-depth reporting in spite of limited access by many facilities, CIR recently released a new documentary that looks at the different ways that prisons, jails, and juvenile halls in the U.S. use solitary confinement with teens.

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American Opera, Rising

OperaSan Diego Opera is on the rebound from its near-death experience. The Metropolitan Opera labor dispute is still simmering, with contracts that will expire in another month. As opera companies across the United States continue to explore new business models and ways of remaining relevant to 21st-century audiences, there’s been a discernible shift toward contemporary American works.

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A United Way Struggles and Shocks are Felt in the Community

ripplesThis United Way set a lower campaign goal this year because the community had not yet recovered its footing after the recession, but even that goal was not reached. What will this mean for local nonprofits?

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Water Crisis in Detroit: Who’s Being Shut Off and Who’s Not?

DetroitDetroit’s revitalization and rebirth as it emerges from municipal bankruptcy should not be done on the backs of the city’s poorest citizens. Representative John Conyers has called on President Obama to step in and stem the inhumane water shutoffs that are affecting thousands of low-income Detroiters.

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L.A. Mayor Garcetti Creates City Nonprofit for Public Projects

MGThe latest mayor to realize that nonprofit donations provide city government some extra flexibility in pursuing difficult-to-fund projects is Los Angeles’s Eric Garcetti. The challenge is to make sure the nonprofit doesn’t devolve into a venue for special interests to buy face time and favors from politicians.

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Anti-Abortion Protestors Move In on Clinics after SCOTUS Buffer Zones Decision

BarrierOn Thursday, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down a Massachusetts law that provided for a 35-foot “buffer zone” around clinics providing abortions. The Saturday after, protestors showed up in greater numbers in Boston and Worcester, pushing beyond that previously established line.

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Red Cross Refuses to Disclose Info on Sandy Spending Claiming “Trade Secrets”

Red CrossProPublica filed a public records request for information the Red Cross had been required to provide to the N.Y. attorney general’s office. But law firm Gibson Dunn, representing the Red Cross, appealed to the attorney general to block some of the Sandy information under the Freedom of Information Law's trade secret exemption.

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Illinois Statewide Anti-Violence Initiative a Mess

EurosAn embarrassing state government screw-up in Illinois shows up in troubled nonprofit performance, but the roots of the problem are in the faulty design and inadequate implementation of an important anti-violence initiative.

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Sinkhole to Become Permanent Attraction at Corvette Museum

NewsThe board of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky has chosen to preserve a smaller portion of last February’s sinkhole as an exhibit. The serendipitous hole in the ground has contributed to a nearly 60 percent increase in attendance in the last quarter over the previous year.

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Seeking What Makes Us Valid as People and as Organizations

ShellAuthenticity sometimes seems like a rare commodity – yet it is valuable beyond words in the work we do. Here we reprint a moving speech by Paul Hogan to the Buffalo Society of Artists about art, mental health and personal and organizational purpose.

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UN Declares Detroit Water Shutoffs Violate Human Rights

FaucetThe United Nations and Congressman John Conyers believe that the plans of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to cut off water to 150,000 customers are inhumane and, according to the UN, a potential violation of human rights. Will we “save” Detroit from its bankruptcy, $5 billion of which is DWSD indebtedness, and ignore a potentially serious violation of the human rights of many of its poorest citizens?

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The State of the American Dream: Safer, Smarter, Poorer

NewsAccording to a report examining the state of opportunity in the United States, the wellbeing of the average American has tripled over the past 40 years, showing marked progress in community safety and access to education. The one area of regression? The economy.

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Parody Website Challenges Detroit Bankruptcy Plan

Free speech is often exceptionally uncomfortable for those who find themselves on the receiving end of scathing public criticism. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has come to the defense of a parody website, KevynOrr.com, that lampoons Detroit’s Emergency Financial Manager Kevyn Orr and criticizes the plan to pull Detroit out of bankruptcy in response to a charge of trademark infringement by Orr’s former employer, the Jones Day law firm.

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IRS Pays Nonprofit Group $50,000 Settlement for Leaking Documents

IRSIn a consent decree entered on Tuesday, the IRS has agreed to pay $50,000 in actual damages to the National Organization for Marriage.

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Nursing Home Worker Fired for Social Media Post

FacebookA nursing home worker is fired after “venting” on Facebook that he would like not only to neglect, but abuse patients. Is that grounds for termination?

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Convictions of Al Jazeera Journalists: An Issue for Nonprofits

Al JazeeraThe now elected, formerly military government of Egypt just topped its mass death sentences for hundreds of protesters with verdicts sentencing three Al Jazeera journalists to prison terms between seven and ten years. Even though Al Jazeera is hardly a nonprofit, this judicial travesty, abetted by the Obama administration’s announcement that it will resume military aid to Egypt, should be condemned by nonprofits worldwide.

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New Nonprofit Will Craft Missing Links in Des Moines Food System

PuzzleEat Greater Des Moines hosted its first speed dating event this week, but those looking to be hooked up were food growers and chefs.

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